If you’re like most professionals, you use e-mail to communicate with colleagues, clients and other business contacts on a regular basis. It’s fast, convenient and relatively unintrusive (compared to, say, an instant message or phone call)—but it also can lead to breakdowns in communication.
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Following are six steps to help you avoid e-mail errors:
1. Give your undivided attention. Avoid multitasking when drafting or responding to important messages. If you can’t reply to an e-mail right away, let the person know when they can expect to hear back. Then, compose the memo when you’re free of distractions.
2. Save the distribution list for last. When writing a confidential or sensitive message, wait until it is complete before carefully selecting the recipients. This will help you avoid sending out an incomplete thought or reaching out to the wrong individuals.
3. Take care with those you copy. Think twice before hitting “reply all,” and only copy people who need to be in on the conversation.
4. Review it on a big screen. E-mailing using handheld devices with small screens and keyboards may increase the likelihood of typos and other mistakes. When sending an important e-mail, it can be helpful to view it on a full-size computer screen or use spell-check before transmitting.
5. Check attachments. Insert any documents—and confirm that they’re the right ones(by opening them after you attach them to the e-mail)—as soon as you refer to them in the memo.
6. Keep it professional. Bear in mind that electronic messages can easily be forwarded and employee e-mails may be monitored. Never say anything unkind or unprofessional that could come back to haunt you.
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